[STATEMENT] National, regional, and international human rights and feminist organizations call for solidarity with our allies from the Uganda Women's Network, "UWONET," and the Uganda National NGO Forum makes an urgent call to stop criminalizing and stigmatizing their work.

December 18th, 2020 - National, regional, and international human rights and feminist organizations call for solidarity to our allies from the Uganda Women's Network, "UWONET". We require the government to stop criminalizing and stigmatizing human rights defenders in Uganda by adopting restrictive laws to jeopardize their right to defend human rights.

On December 10, 2020, the Director of Public Prosecutors in Uganda notified our allies from the UWONET and the Uganda National NGO Forum, freezing their assets and accounts to develop their work. He estimated that they are suspicious of funding terrorist activity under the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act.(1)

Moreover, this situation occurs when several activities were executed during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and will affect their critical work, promoting the political inclusion of women and young women across the country in peacebuilding efforts.

The adoption and implementation of these anti-terrorism laws that restrict our freedom of association and our right to defend human rights are very worrying. It shows a global trend that illustrates the use of criminal law against human rights defenders. Simultaneously, the criminal justice systems prosecute social protest and incentivize the violence and impunity in the crimes committed against us.

In Latin America, we are witnessing the proliferation of Anti-Terrorists Laws that justify the use of penal law to criminalize social protest, outlaw feminist and human rights organizations, and restrict our access to funding.

So, we raise our voices in solidarity as we have done before with our Nicaraguans(2) and Chilean(3) allies to call upon the Ugandan authorities to:

- Attend that the right to freedom assembly and the right to defend human rights are protected and recognized by several international bodies(4). States must facilitate and promote the access to funding by organizations(5), and not limit it(6), as an essential part of their functioning(7).

- Rectify and publicly acknowledge the critical role that women movement, organizations, and human rights defenders develop (8); lift the prohibition to use their bank accounts, and refrain from using the Anti-Terrorism Law to criminalize and harass feminist organizations and human rights defenders in the country.

  • APRASE – Asociación de Abogadas y Abogados Saharauis en España, Global
  • Articulación Feminista Marcosur – AFM, América Latina y el Caribe
  • Colectiva de Mujeres “Rosa Luxemburgo”, AC, México
  • Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Local, El Salvador
  • Colectivo Nicaragua Nunca+
  • Comisión de Derechos Humanos Hispano Guatemalteca, Global
  • Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres CLADEM – Nicaragua, Nicaragua
  • Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca AC, México
  • Corporación Colectivo ANSUR, Latino América
  • Cotidiano Mujer, Uruguay
  • Fondo de Acción Urgente para América Latina y el Caribe Hispanohablante, América Latina y el Caribe Hispanohablante 
  • Fundación Acceso, Centroamérica
  • Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras), Mesoamérica
  • Red de Mujeres por una Opinión Pública con Perspectiva de Género AC, México
  • Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Honduras, Honduras 
  • Red Salvadoreña de Defensoras de DDHH, El Salvador
  • Surkuna Ecuador, Ecuador
  • Unidad de Registro de Nicaragua, Nicaragua
  • World Organisation against Torture, Switzerland

(1) The Independent. UWONET denies claims of terror financing, 13 de diciembre de 2020.
(2) UN. La nueva ley antiterrorista en Nicaragua podría usarse para criminalizar protestas pacífica, 17 de julio de 2018.
(3) Amnistía Internacional. Chile: Autoridades deben dejar de criminalizar personas mapuches a través de Ley Antiterrorista, 5 de mayo de 2018; Elmostrador. Ley Antiterrorista, criminalización del pueblo Mapuche, 21 de abril de 2018.
(4) Freedom of association is protected by Article 16 of the ACHR, Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and Article 13 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
(5) United Nations. General Assembly. Human Rights Defenders. October 1, 2004. A/59/401, párr. 82.
(6) IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, 2012, párr. 179.
(7) Informe del Relator Especial de la ONU Mania Kiai sobre los Derechos a la libertad de reunión pacífica y de asociación, A/70/266, (4 de agosto de 2015), párr. 67.
(8) The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association, the Inter American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) and its Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and focal point for reprisals in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), JOINT DECLARATION ON THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE, pág. 4.

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